Stock Dubai skyline
The influx of European buyers makes for sustained buying activity in Dubai property, even during Ramadan. Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

In Dubai, Ramadan is generally seen as a time when this buzzing city pauses to take a breath. This collective slowdown affects every aspect of the city, including its real estate.

Transactions tend to slow down, there are far fewer viewings (especially with Muslim clients who won’t be as active during the day), and there is an overall sense that the market is waiting to ramp up once the Holy Month has concluded.

Not so in 2023 – this has been the busiest Ramadan in Dubai’s real estate sector. Looking back 5 years ago, there were only 509 transactions during the first 20 days of Ramadan. By contrast, we have seen 2,222 transactions during that same period this year – an increase of 336 per cent.

Even compared to the same period last year, there has been a 51.4 per cent increase in transactions.

What makes this Ramadan so different from the previous ones? One of the key factors, I believe, is the changing demographic of buyers in the market.

Traditionally, the market has been dominated by buyers from across Asia, particularly South Asia – India, Pakistan, and GCC nations such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been among the top buying nationalities. A large percentage of those buyers would be observing Ramadan and as such, there would be a decrease in their activity during this period, only to pick up again after Eid Al Fitr.

In recent years, the buying demographic has become increasingly European. In fact, if we look at the statistic for 2022, India was the only nation to feature in The top 5 buying nationalities. With a larger number of European investors entering the market, it’s reasonable to say – without painting everyone with too broad a brush – that there will be fewer among them that observe the Ramadan period.

For them, it’s just another month and another opportunity to buy real estate.

A drastic transformation

On a larger scale, Ramadan in Dubai has changed over the years. The city that once used to shut itself off for a month now continues to be on the move. Many aspects of life in Dubai during Ramadan have changed as the city continues to position itself as a global hub, welcoming of people from all over the world and all walks of life.

Aside from reduced working hours, one might not notice a difference in the city’s operations.

For most industries, this has meant that Ramadan is now business as usual. It’s similar to what happened with summer – pre-pandemic, the summer months were seen as incredibly quiet. Most people would travel to get away from the Dubai heat and the real estate market all but ground to a halt until September.

Since 2020, that graph has changed considerably and now summer is just as busy as any other season.

A changing work cycle too

In some respects, this can be a negative. Real estate agents in particular always had a pre-Ramadan rush where they were motivated to work even harder to close deals so they could slow down a bit during the Ramadan period.

Now, they no longer have that luxury. What this does mean, however, is an increase in the number of opportunities that are available to keep doing business during this time and to maintain a steady flow of work (and income).

With Dubai increasingly becoming a city that people from around the world want to call home, a busty Ramadan period only underscores the positive sentiment In the real estate market and is a good indicator of what we can expect from the remainder of the year.